After memorable win over USC — and a bye — next up for No. 14 Utah is short week game at Washington State
Like the Utes, WSU is also coming off a bye. On Oct. 15, the Cougars lost 24-10 at Oregon State.
Now that its bye week is over, Utah is facing a short week.
The No. 14 Utes, who rose one spot in the Associated Press poll Sunday, visit Washington State Thursday (8 p.m. MDT, FS1).
Like Utah, WSU (4-3, 1-3) is also coming off a bye. On Oct. 15, the Cougars lost 24-10 at Oregon State.
That same night, the Utes handed then-No. 7 USC its first setback of the season, 43-42. Utah rallied from multiple two-touchdown deficits and beat the Trojans on a quarterback Cam Rising touchdown and two-point conversion with 48 seconds remaining.
“What a great win for our program,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “It was one of those nights that was very special.”
The dramatic victory helped ease the pain of the Utes’ 42-32 defeat at UCLA on Oct. 8.
“We were able to get that nasty taste out of our mouths of a loss, against a great team in Rice-Eccles and that was special for us and special for our fan base,” said cornerback Clark Phillips III. “It was good to get things rolling in the right direction.”
It was also the kind of win that can propel a team down the home stretch of the season.
“Most definitely. It was a hard-fought game,” Phillips said. “It was a game literally fought to the last second. Those are the types of victories you take with you all season.”
Tight end Dalton Kincaid, who caught 16 passes for 234 yards against USC, said beating the Trojans “showed exactly who we are. The heart and the determination that we have. Cam used the term ‘unwavering belief’ and I think you can’t say anything better.”
With a little more than a month remaining in the regular season, Utah finds itself right in the thick of the Pac-12 race.
On Saturday, No. 8 Oregon beat No. 12 UCLA 45-30 in Eugene. It marked the Bruins’ first Pac-12 loss. The Ducks stand all alone on top of the conference standings with a 4-0 mark in league play.
The Utes (5-2, 3-1), UCLA and USC have one Pac-12 loss apiece.
Remember, this year there’s a change in the championship game format. The league announced last summer that when it comes to crowning a champion, divisions no longer matter. The Pac-12 championship game will feature the two teams with the highest conference winning percentage instead of two division winners.
“Our goal is to place our two best teams in our Pac-12 football championship game, which we believe will provide our conference with the best opportunity to optimize CFP invitations and ultimately win national championships,” said Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff.
The Pac-12 championship game will be held Dec. 2 in Las Vegas.
After playing Washington State, Utah hosts back-to-back games against Arizona (Nov. 5) and Stanford (Nov. 12) and it closes the regular season at Oregon (Nov. 19) and at Colorado (Nov. 26).
But as Whittingham would tell you, his team is not looking past Thursday night in Pullman.
No. 14 Utah (5-2, 3-1) at Washington State (4-3, 1-3)
Thursday, 8 p.m. MDT
Radio: ESPN 700